US 7025098 B2
A bandolier of syringes for use in an automated syringe handling system is provided. The automated syringe handling system generally receives syringes and fills the syringe with a substance, such as a medicament. In one exemplary embodiment, the syringe handling system is a system that disperses one or more medicaments into the syringes in an automated manner. The bandolier includes a web, e.g., a strip of transparent material partially encapsulating bodies of syringes that are bound to the web at a prescribed interval. The bandolier includes a feature disposed within the prescribed interval and between the syringes with the feature being different from the surrounding web.
1. A bandolier of syringes for use in a controllable syringe handling system, the bandolier comprising: a web; a multiplicity of syringes affixed to the web at a prescribed interval selected to permit handling by the controllable syringe handling system; and a control feature at a prescribed location relative to the web which is disposed within the prescribed interval and between adjacent syringes, the control feature being configured to interact with the controllable syringe handling system so as to influence handling operations of the syringe handling system including the advancement of the bandolier, wherein the prescribed location of the control feature relative to the web indicates to the controllable syringe handling system that at least one physical parameter related to a structure of the syringe is within an acceptable value.
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8. A control system for an automated syringe handling system, the control system comprising: an indexer configured to advance a syringe through the automated syringe handling system; a bandolier of syringes supplying syringes to the indexer, the bandolier including: a web, a multiplicity of syringes affixed to the web at a prescribed interval, and a control feature disposed within the prescribed interval and between adjacent syringes, the control feature being different from the surrounding web; and a detection system including a detector positioned to detect the control feature on the bandolier and perform a prescribed operation in response to the detection or non-detection of the control feature, wherein the detector determines whether the bandolier is properly aligned in the syringe handling system and whether at least one of a dimension of the syringe and a volume of the syringe is acceptable for use in the controllable syringe handling system based on either detection or non-detection of the control feature.
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21. A bandolier of syringes for use in a controllable syringe handling system, the bandolier comprising: a web; a multiplicity of syringes affixed to the web at a prescribed interval selected to permit handling by the controllable syringe handling system; and a control feature at a prescribed location relative to the web which is disposed within the prescribed interval and between adjacent syringes, the control feature being configured to interact with the controllable syringe handling system so as to influence handling operations of the syringe handling system, wherein the control feature is formed at a prescribed coordinate location of the web between adjacent syringes, the prescribed coordinate location representing and indicating a specific bandolier type by indicating whether at least one of a dimension of the syringe and a volume of the syringe is acceptable for use in the controllable syringe handling system.
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24. A bandolier of syringes for use in a controllable syringe handling system, the bandolier comprising: a web, a multiplicity of syringes affixed to the web at a prescribed interval selected to permit handling by the controllable syringe handling system; and a control feature at a prescribed location relative to the web which is disposed within the prescribed interval and between adjacent syringes, the control feature being configured to interact with the controllable syringe handling system so as to influence handling operations of the syringe handling system including the advancement of the bandolier, wherein the prescribed location of the control feature relative to the web indicates to the controllable syringe handling system a proper alignment of the bandolier of syringes within the controllable syringe handling system.
This application is a continuation application of U.S. patent application Ser. No. 10/001,244, filed Nov. 15, 2001 now U.S. Pat. No. 6,722,404, and which is hereby incorporated by reference in its entirety.
The present invention relates generally to medical equipment, and more particularly, to unit dose, disposable syringes that are used for the delivery of fluids into an object, such as a human body or an animal's body.
Disposable syringes are in widespread use for a number of different types of applications. For example, syringes are used not only to withdraw a fluid (e.g., blood) from a patient but also to administer a medicament to a patient. In the latter, a cap or the like is removed from the syringe and a unit does of the medicament is carefully measured and then injected or otherwise disposed within the syringe.
As technology advances, more and more sophisticated, automated systems are being developed for preparing and delivering medicaments by integrating a number of different stations, with one or more specific tasks being performed at each station. For example, one type of exemplary automated system operates as a syringe filling apparatus that receives user inputted information, such as the type of medicament, the volume of the medicament and any mixing instructions, etc. The system then uses this inputted information to disperse the correct medicament into the syringe up to the inputted volume.
In some instances, the medicament that is to be delivered to the patient includes more than one pharmaceutical substance. For example, the medicament can be a mixture of several components, such as several pharmaceutical substances.
By automating the medicament preparation process, increased production and efficiency are achieved. This results in reduced production costs and also permits the system to operate over any time period of a given day with only limited operator intervention for manual inspection to ensure proper operation is being achieved. Such a system finds particular utility in settings, such as large hospitals, including a large number of doses of medicaments have to be prepared daily. Traditionally, these doses have been prepared manually in what is an exacting but tedious responsibility for a highly skilled staff. In order to be valuable, automated systems must maintain the exacting standards set by medical regulatory bodies, while at the same time simplifying the overall process and reducing the time necessary for preparing the medicaments.
Because syringes are often used as the carrier means for transporting and delivering the medicament to the patient, it is advantageous for these automated systems to be tailored to accept syringes. There are a vast number of different types of syringes that are commercially available and some of those available may be improper for use with a given type of automated system. For example, the shape and/or dimensions of the syringe may prevent one syringe type from being used in a given automated system and can even cause damage due to jamming of the syringes as they are fed into the automated system.
What is needed in the art and has heretofore not been available is a system and method for automatically feeding a number of syringes into the automated system with the syringes being monitored and controlled so that only the proper syringe type is used and misalignment of the syringes is eliminated.
A bandolier of syringes for use in an automated syringe handling system is provided. The automated syringe handling system generally receives syringes and fills each syringe with a substance, such as a medicament. In one exemplary embodiment, the syringe handling system is a system that disperses one or more medicaments into the syringes in an automated manner.
According to one aspect of the present invention, a bandolier includes a web, e.g., a strip of transparent material, partially encapsulating bodies of syringes that are bound to the web at a prescribed interval. The bandolier includes a control feature disposed within the prescribed interval and between the syringes with the control feature being different from the surrounding web.
In accordance with another aspect of the invention, the control feature is used in combination with a detection system that is configured to detect the control feature. By incorporating the control feature into the bandolier structure, sufficient advance notification is provided indicating that the syringe bandolier is being misfed since the bandolier will not be advanced when the detection system fails to properly sense the control feature. A control system in accordance with this aspect of the invention includes an indexer configured to advance a syringe through the automated syringe handling system, a bandolier of syringes supplying syringes to the indexer, and a detection system including a detector positioned to detect the control feature on the bandolier and perform a prescribed operation in response to the detection or non-detection of the control feature.
In yet a further aspect of the invention, the use of the control feature can also ensure that only syringes of the correct type are used with the automated syringe handling system.
Further aspects and features of the exemplary syringe bandolier disclosed herein can be appreciated from the appended Figures and accompanying written description.
A second station 30 is a syringe storage station 130 that houses and stores a number of syringes. For example, up to 500 syringes or more can be disposed in the second station 30 for storage and later use. The station 30 can be in the form of a bin or the like or any other type of structure than can hold a number of syringes.
The system 10 also includes a rotary apparatus 40 for advancing items to and from various stations of the system 10. A number of the stations are arranged circumferentially around the rotary apparatus 40 so that when an item is supported on, coupled to, or engaged by the rotary apparatus 40 at a first location and the rotary apparatus 40 is then advanced, the item is rotated to a next station where a different action occurs.
One exemplary type of rotary apparatus 40 is a multiple station cam-indexing dial that is adapted to perform material handling operations. The indexer is configured to have multiple stations positioned thereabout with individual nests for each station position. One syringe is held within one nest using any number of suitable techniques, including opposing spring-loaded fingers that act to clamp the syringe in its respective nest. The indexer permits the rotary apparatus 40 to be advanced at specific intervals.
The system 10 also preferably includes a reading device (not shown) that is capable of reading a label disposed on the sealed container containing the medicament. The label is read using any number of suitable reader/scanner devices, such as a bar code reader, etc., so as to confirm that the proper medicament has been selected from the storage unit of the first station 20. Multiple readers can be employed in the system at various locations to confirm the accuracy of the entire process. Once the system 10 confirms that the sealed container that has been selected contains the proper medicament, a safety cap or the like is removed from the sealed container. Preferably, the safety cap is removed in a just-in-time for use manner on a deck of the automated system 10.
The system 10 also preferably includes a station 50 for injecting a diluent into the medicament contained in the opened container and then subsequently mixing the medicament and the diluent. At a station 60, syringes are loaded into one of the nests of the rotary apparatus 40. One syringe is loaded into one nest of the rotary apparatus 40 in which the syringe is securely held in place. The system 10 preferably includes additional mechanisms for preparing the syringe for use, such as removing a tip cap and extending a plunger of the syringe. After the syringe is ready for use, the medicament (with diluent) is withdrawn from the medicament's container and is then disposed into the syringe at station 65. For example, a cannula can be inserted into the sealed container and the mixed medicament then aspirated into a cannula set. The cannula is then withdrawn from the container and positioned using the rotary apparatus 40 in line with (above, below, etc.) the syringe. The unit dose of the medicament is then delivered to the syringe, as well as additional diluent if necessary or desired. The tip cap is then placed back on the syringe. Another station 70 prints and applies a label to the syringe and one of the readers can be used to verify that this label is placed in a correct location and the printing thereon is readable. Also, the reader can confirm that the label properly identifies the medicament that is contained in the syringe. The syringe is then unloaded from the rotary apparatus 40 at a station 80 and delivered to a predetermined location, such as a new order bin, a conveyor, a sorting device, or a reject bin. The delivery of the syringe can be accomplished using a standard conveyor or other type of apparatus.
By automating the entire process by using one or more robotic devices having one or more arms for grasping objects and an index device (rotary device), the filling of syringes is done in a more cost effective and expedited manner. The robotic devices are part of a computer based system that permits the user to simply enter a command and this causes the robotic devices to be driven under program control to any number of locations to perform prescribed tasks.
Referring now to
A number of different materials can be used to form the first and second strip layers 130, 140 so long as the material is adapted to perform the desired function of securely holding the syringes 110 in spaced relationship so as to form the bandolier 100. For example, the first and second strip layers 130, 140 can be formed of a plastic material. In this embodiment, the bandolier 100 can be assembled by first providing the first strip layer 130, then disposing the syringes 110 at the desired predetermined intervals along the first strip layer 130 before then disposing the second strip layer 140 over the syringes 110 opposite the first strip layer 130. The assembled first strip layer 130, syringes 110, and second strip layer 140 are then subjected to a process for causing the first and second strip layers 130, 140 to become in intimate contact with each other in the intervals between the syringes 110 and in intimate contact with the bodies of syringes 110. This results in the syringes 110 being securely held between the first and second strip layers 130, 140 at the desired spaced interval distances. One type of process for achieving such a result involves the use of a vacuum type system that evacuates the air between the first and second strip layers 130, 140 and causes the syringes 110 to be secured and held in the desired locations along the strip 120. It will also be appreciated that an adhesive or a heat weld can be used between the first and second strip layers 130, 140 for producing the final bandolier 100.
The strip 120 is defined by an upper edge 121 and a lower edge 123 with each syringe 110 extending beyond both the upper edge 121 and the lower edge 123. More specifically, the first and second strip layers 130, 140 are positioned in the region of the syringe body 112 so that the layers 130, 140 seal against this body portion 112 in the completed bandolier 100. Because the syringes 110 bound to the strip 120 are spaced along the strip at predetermined locations, prescribed intervals 150 are formed between the syringes 110. In other words, between next adjacent syringes 110, one prescribed interval 150 is formed and consists of the first and second strip layers 130, 140 sealed to one another. Preferably, the length of each prescribed interval 150 is the same along the length of the entire bandolier 100.
The bandolier 100 has a control feature, generally indicated at 160, incorporated therein to ensure that the bandolier 100 is properly aligned in a system that it is being used in, such as the automated system 10, and also to ensure that the syringes 110 of the bandolier 100 have specifications, e.g., dimensions, that fall within the acceptable specifications of the system with which the bandolier 100 is being used. The control feature 160 is formed in each prescribed interval 150 between next adjacent syringes 110. The control feature 160 is configured so that a detection mechanism, such as a reader or other type of similar device, can detect the presence or absence, as well as the location of the control feature 160 within the prescribed interval 150.
In this embodiment, the detection mechanism 170 also includes a sensor 190 that is disposed on the opposite side of the bandolier 100 as compared to the nozzle 180. The sensor 190 is configured to detect the presence of the laminar air flow when the aperture and laminar air flow are in alignment. In this instance, the sensor 190 is of a type that detects the presence of the laminar air flow against the sensor 190 itself and in one embodiment, the sensor 190 is a pressure sensor. When the laminar air flow and the control feature 160 are in registration, the laminar air flow is permitted to flow cleanly through the aperture formed in the bandolier 100 and make contact with the sensor 190. The sensor 190 detects the presence of the laminar air flow and signals a controller (not shown) or the like of such detection. The controller is integrated into the system 10 such that upon receiving this signal, the controller then signals other components, such as the rotary apparatus 40, of the system 10 to advance the bandolier 100 a prescribed distance. It should be understood that the controller can respond to the pressure of the air flow through the control feature 160 or to a logical waveform resulting from the timing of air signals relative to periods without air signals (e.g., due to indexing of the bandolier 100).
Once the bandolier 100 is advanced the prescribed distance, another of the apertures (control feature) 160 is then axially aligned with the laminar air flow so long as the correct type of bandolier 100 for the system 10 is in place, the syringe orientation (up or down) is proper, and also the alignment of the bandolier 100 is proper. By integrating the detection mechanism 170 with the indexing components of the system 10, the distance between the control features 160 corresponds to the distance that the bandolier 100 is advanced upon receiving the control signal from the detection mechanism 170. Thus, the bandolier 100 is continuously advanced because each time the detection mechanism 170 is in recognition with the control feature 160, the bandolier 100 is advanced a distance that corresponds to the next control feature 160 being within a detection zone, thereby resulting in the detection mechanism 170 detecting the next control feature 160 and signaling the system 10 to further advance the bandolier 100.
It will be appreciated that the system 10 can thus easily be designed so that the bandolier 100 is continuously fed into the system 10, thereby permitting the system 10 to run continuously. The control feature 160 ensures proper alignment of the bandolier 100 and also ensures that the proper type of bandolier 100 is being used as the system 10 is configured to stop advancing the bandolier 100 if the detection mechanism 170 fails to read the control feature 160. For example, if the correct bandolier 100 is being used but the bandolier 100 becomes misaligned as it is being fed, the control feature 160 will not be in alignment with the nozzle 180 as the bandolier 100 is advanced. The detection mechanism 170 is preferably configured so that it will only advance the bandolier 100 a predetermined distance without detecting the control feature 160. If the control feature 160 is not detected over this predetermined distance, the detection mechanism 170 signals the controller or the like of the system 10 to stop advancement of the bandolier 100. Preferably, an error message is generated at the same time the bandolier 100 is stopped. Manual inspection is then performed to locate the problem.
Similarly, the system 10 is preferably a computer based system that receives user input. For example, the user can input the type of bandolier 100 that is being used in the system 10. In other words, the user is asked to input and identify the bandolier 100 by its common characteristics. Syringes 110 are commonly identified by their volume capacities and exemplary syringes that can be used with the system 10, include 12 ml (intravenous) and 25 ml (oral) syringes. The user preferably inputs the type of syringe (i.e., whether it is a 12 ml, 25 ml, or other size syringe) and then a microprocessor or the like will store this information and relay this information to the controller and detection mechanism 170. In order the have the detection mechanism 170 differentiate between the various different types of bandoliers 100, several techniques can be used.
For example and according to one embodiment illustrated in
It will be appreciated that only a 25 ml bandolier 100 is formed to have a control feature 160 that assumes the first coordinate location at a point in time as the bandolier 100 is being advanced. Therefore, if the wrong type of bandolier 100 is used, proper registration between the control feature 160 and the detection mechanism 170 does not result and advancement of the bandolier 100 is stopped. Similarly, if the user enters that a 12 ml bandolier 100 is being used, the detection mechanism 170 will only detect bandoliers that have the control feature 160 formed at the second coordinate location.
There are a number of different control features and detection mechanisms that can be used with the bandoliers. Now referring to
Any conventional optical feature 200 that is suitable for use in the present application can be used. The detection mechanism 210 is a detection mechanism that optically detects the presence of the optical feature 200 when the optical feature 200 is in proper registration with an optical detector 220. For example, the optical detection mechanism 210 can include an optical detector 220 that faces the bandolier 100 as the bandolier 100 is advanced. The optical detector 220 cooperates with a light source, such as a laser or LED 225 that also faces the bandolier 100 to detect the presence of the optical feature 200. Advantageously, the light source and optical detector are arranged relative to each other in accordance with Snell's Law of Reflection; however, the light source and detector can be arranged otherwise, such as normal to and facing the optical feature 200. The feature 200 can come in a number of different shapes and sizes.
The optical detection mechanism 210 operates essentially in the same manner as the detection mechanism 170 of
In yet another embodiment that is illustrated in
It will also be appreciated that when the control feature is an aperture formed through the bandolier 100 within the prescribed region 150, other types of detection mechanisms can be used rather than the pressure based detection mechanism discussed earlier. For example, the detection mechanism can be an ultrasonic system having an ultrasonic receiver and transducer. Ultrasonic waves are created one side of the bandolier 100 and are emitted toward the bandolier 100. When the control feature is in proper registration, the ultrasonic waves can pass through the aperture unimpeded and are detected on the other side of the bandolier 100. When the detection mechanism is ultrasonically based, the system preferably includes an integrator and comparator so that ultrasonic waves that pass through the aperture can be differentiated from ultrasonic waves that reach the detector by means other than passing through the aperture (control feature).
Another type of detection mechanism that can be used with the bandolier 100 is a thermal detection system. For example, the control feature 160 is still an aperture formed in the bandolier 100; however, the detection mechanism is a thermal based system that includes a thermal source (e.g., heat lamp) and a thermal detector. The thermal source, such as a heat lamp, is disposed on one side of the bandolier 100, while the thermal detector is disposed on the other side of the bandolier 100. The thermal source and the thermal detector are positioned so that the aperture is in registration therewith at a point in time as the bandolier 100 is advanced. The thermal detection mechanism is preferably coupled with an integrator and comparator. These two components permit the thermal detection mechanism to differentiate between heat that is detected across the aperture and heat that is detected through the bandolier 100 itself but outside of the aperture. Because heat that passes directly through the aperture is of higher intensity than heat that passes through the first and second layers 130, 140 of the bandolier 100, the integrator/comparator can differentiate between the different thermal energies and only permit advancement of the bandolier 100 when thermal energy passing through the aperture is detected.
Preferably, an ultrasonically, or heat or optically-based detection system includes logic such that the system does not merely detect ultrasonic waves, optical waves or heat waves but also analyzes the character, e.g., amplitude, of the waves. The detection system can therefore be configured to effectively filter out waves that do not meet certain criteria. The criteria is preferably a threshold that is achieved only when waves pass directly through the aperture (control feature) and are detected by the detection mechanism on the other side of the bandolier 100. Thus, waves that do not pass through the aperture but are otherwise detected on the other side of bandolier 100 do not register as a detection since they lack the prescribed criteria.
The control feature can comprise a segment of web material that permits passage of heat or light (of a given frequency, for example) while the remainder of the strip 120 is treated (e.g., coated) to block heat or light of prescribed frequencies. Thus, it can be appreciated that the control feature can take on a variety of forms to ensure proper handling of the bandolier type syringes.
It will also be appreciated that the detection systems employed for use with the syringe bandoliers described herein can operate with a higher degree of sophistication. For example, the detection system, and preferably the sensors thereof, can be connected a logic device that permits the detection system to look for and detect more sophisticated and complicated sensing patterns. The detection system (with logic) will search for distinct patterns associated with the control features. For example and with reference to
It will also be appreciated that the logic can be configured so that the sensor is searching for a distinct sensing pattern in which no signal is sensed for a first time period before a signal is sensed and then no signal is sensed again for the first time period. In other words, the sensor does not receive stimulus all the time but rather at select times and for select periods of time. This is the case in the detection system illustrated in
In yet another aspect, the detection system can be linked to a communications network so that the detection system (or parts thereof) can be signaled from remote locations. For example, the sensor of the detection system can have a communications port that is in communication with a remote controller. An individual at a remote site can use the remote controller and signal the sensor to go offline. Conventional signal addressing protocol can be used so that the remote controller can be used to control a number of detection systems that are located in different places but all linked to the communications network. This permits the detection system to be by-passed when conditions require such action or for other reasons when it may be desirable to disable the detection system.
By incorporating a control feature into the syringe bandolier, performance deficiencies that were associated with automated systems that use syringes have been eliminated. For example, the use of the control feature provides the user with sufficient advance notification that the syringe bandolier is being misfed since the bandolier will not be advanced when the detection system fails to properly sense the control feature. This, in turn, prevents fluids from being ejected onto the automated deck in case of a misalignment. Another problem associated with conventional syringe based automated systems is that syringes of the wrong size or type are inserted into the system. This problem is also overcome by the present syringe bandolier because the use of control features ensures that only syringes of the correct type are used.
It will be appreciated by persons skilled in the art that the present invention is not limited to the embodiments described thus far with reference to the accompanying drawing. Rather the present invention is limited only by the following claims.